On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled that mass-murderer Dylann Roof could represent himself in the trial for the nine African American South Carolina residents that Roof slaughtered inside of a church.
It was just last week that the judge presiding over Roof’s mass-murder case determined that the 22-year-old was competent to stand trial, allowing the case to proceed forward and resume the process of selecting a jury.
Now, against the advice of the judge and Roof’s former council, the young man will now represent himself in this difficult trial. His lawyers will still be present and can assist Roof at any time he requests.
Federal prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Roof on hate crime, obstruction of religion and other charges. This is just the first of two death penalty trials Roof faces.
Roof had previously agreed to plead guilty to the charges if the death penalty were to be taken off the table – whether this was his idea or the idea of his council is uncertain.
The judge’s decision to allow Roof to represent himself raises many questions, especially considering how recently that same judge had to rule over Roof was mentally competent enough to stand trial at all. What could have transpired over these last few weeks to change the judge’s mind so drastically?
Jury selection for the trial has begun, though it will likely be slow-going. Most recent information shows that the court has selected one jury member for the trial.